Deforestation is a big topic when we talk about the environment, global warming, climate change, and all of those related topics. These are important topics, and we will have to change the way we live our lives, if we want to keep them. However, few things are truly black and white. Could it be that deforestation, the current big challenging thing for the environment, has positives and negatives? Could it have benefits and consequences?
There are always two sides to every story, of course, and deforestation is no exception.
One problem with trying to stop deforestation in developing countries is that the developed countries cleared forests right and left in setting up their countries. The reason we’re talking to other countries about deforestation now is that we did not know about the environmental hazards before, or understand what that meant. Now we do, and it is essential that the deforestation of the Amazon rain forest be stopped.
But we have a credibility problem, because it seems like the big, industrialized (and largely white) countries are coming in and telling the poor South Americans what to do. There may be a little of that going on, but mostly, we’re really concerned about the deforestation, and we have that credibility problem.
Not only do we not sound particularly sincere; these people benefit from deforestation. They have clear land to raise cattle, farm, build homes, and build roads. As far as they’re concerned, it’s “their” forest, and they’re doing what it takes to improve their lives.
Yes, there are many negative consequences. In addition to the climate issues, soil erodes and nutrients are lost, so that the ground quickly becomes unusable. Lack of trees to hold water and support watersheds results in floods, which can cause landslides. On top of these difficulties, indigenous people, plants and animals are driven out, and many plants and animals may become extinct.
It is definitely not a good situation, and even the “benefits” that the local residents receive are paltry in comparison to what they lose. But they believe that they have the right to make the decision, and so far they see no other viable solutions. Stopping deforestation and reforesting the area depends on finding a way to offer them more, for not tearing down the trees, than they get by doing it. And the offer will have to appear as more to them, not just to the countries helping them find solutions.
It’s hard to find a topic, particularly a global topic, with more diverse views. Many environmentalists blame governments for not protecting the rain forests, while the governments themselves are busy just trying to hold everything together with their limited resources. They’re not able to take on global warming and rain forest deforestation. They don’t have the leisure of being able to worry about the whole world, because they have more than they can do just to make sure their own countries don’t collapse under the weight of the economic and other problems plaguing the area.